Ames man’s organ donations honored by driver’s license office plaque

The legacy of an Ames man who died nearly five years ago lives on in the hundreds of people whose lives have been saved or improved through his organ and tissue donations, and a new plaque at the office driver’s licenses placed in his memory is intended to encourage more people to sign up as donors.

This includes people who have already chosen to be organ donors – perhaps they made the choice without much thought on the spot and haven’t thought about it since – Joanie Brookes said: “Even if you say yes, it’s good to know what happens if you put yes.”

The Ames driver’s license office is where Brookes worked when his son, Teddy Perry, was a baby, and is where Perry got his license.

Perry, 19, died by suicide on October 18, 2017. When doctors told his family he would not survive, Mary Perry – his grandmother and Brookes’ mother – suggested organ donation, and their decision deeply moved health care workers.

“They all cried with us,” Brookes told the Nevada Journal in 2017.

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There are other public memorials to Perry – a tree, bench, and plaque at Ledges State Park; a bench in the spot along a gravel road in northern Nevada where he killed himself – but the permanent plaque installed in late June by the Iowa Donor Network and the Iowa Department of Transportation at the Ames Driver’s License Office recognizes the lives Perry touched in death and is the 10th such plaque at driver’s license offices in the state.

Brookes and Perry became volunteers with the Iowa Donor Network after Teddy Perry’s death. Brookes said no one in his life has ever needed a transplant, but being an organ donor is something his son asked of him before he died – even though he didn’t sign up for it. be one when he got his license.

A plaque honoring organ donor Teddy Perry is seen at the driver's license office in Ames after it was unveiled on June 29.

She met the five people whose lives were saved by receiving Perry’s organs: heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.

The five also know each other, and Brookes said it was a tight-knit group. She walked the bride of one of the kidney recipients down the aisle at their wedding, where the lung recipient’s son was the ring bearer.

Brookes said she’s glad the plaque not only encourages people to sign up as donors, but shares her son’s story.

“It makes the question more meaningful, rather than just yes or no,” she said.

She also said that it was not only organs, but also tissues. Perry’s tissue donations have benefited the lives of more than 130 other people.

Tissues can include bone, connective tissue, and skin grafts.

Members of Teddy Perry's family hug after the June 29 unveiling of a plaque in his honor at the driver's license office in Ames.  Perry, who died by suicide in 2017 aged 19, was an organ donor and his donations have saved or improved more than 140 lives.  Plaques like Perry's are meant to encourage more people to sign up as donors, and Perry's is the 10th such plaque at licensing offices in Iowa.

Other plaques honor donors and recipients around the Des Moines Metro

Of the more than 1.58 million Iowans who have registered to be organ, eye and tissue donors, 97% of them have registered while obtaining a driver’s license, according to a press release. from the Iowa Donor Network.

More than 107,000 people in the United States are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants, including nearly 600 Iowans, according to the statement.

The network and transportation department work together to identify plaque recipients in communities, including deceased donors, living donors or recipients.

The first plaque was placed in February 2020 in Waukee, honoring Drew Lienemann. Lienemann, 18, committed suicide in January 2016. Within 15 months of his death, 194 people had received his organs and tissues, including two whose lives were saved.

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Drew Lienemann

Between November 2020 and August 2021, the following six plaques honored donors and one heartfelt recipient in Council Bluffs, Mason City, Fort Dodge, Fairfield, Waterloo and Marshalltown.

In November 2021, the eighth plaque honored Freddie Windsor – a heart and kidney recipient and cornea donor – in Des Moines. Although Windsor died in November 2020 while awaiting a second heart and kidney transplant, his wife, Cindy, told Des Moines Register columnist Rachelle Chase that the first transplants gave him back the quality of life he had. he athlete and stay-at-home dad had been missing since he developed congestive heart failure in 2012.

Windsor’s corneas gave sight to two people.

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Freddie Windsor was a heart and kidney recipient and then a cornea donor when he died in 2020. He was a passionate advocate for organ donors.

The ninth plaque for an Iowa driver’s license office was placed in June in Ankeny, honoring donors Carson and Claire DeJoode.

The DeJoode siblings – Carson, 5, and Claire, 5 months – were killed in 2010 in a car accident when the vehicle their mother was driving was swept away by another. The accident also injured their mother and 3-year-old brother.

Carson’s corneas went into an eye bank; his heart valves to a valve bank; his loins to two women; and his liver to a 9-year-old boy.

Claire’s heart went out to a baby in Utah, whose parents had just learned he didn’t have long to live.

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Carson and Claire DeJoode before the car accident that took their lives in 2010.

At Ames, Brookes said she and her family can go visit Perry’s plaque whenever they want.

In addition to the driver’s license registration process, Iowans can register to become organ and tissue donors at iowadonornetwork.org/.

How to get help

There are state and national resources for those considering suicide, as well as resources for family or friends who may be worried about a loved one.

  • Your Life Iowa – call 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398 for free confidential support 24/7. Other resources are available online at yourlifeiowa.org. There is also a live chat feature on the website.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – call 800-273-TALK (8255), also available in Spanish at 888-628-9454, for free, confidential 24/7 support. Other resources are available online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and PreK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be contacted by email at [email protected] He’s on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

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